Kevin Durant put all the messy business about his shouting match with Russell Westbrook way way behind him. How? He had another huge night with 30 points, but more importantly, sank a winning three pointer, beating the buzzer, to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder over the Dallas Mavericks in a dramatic 104-102 win.
Everyone knows that the best way to eliminate bad vibes and negative rumors are wins. So, after Durant and Westbrook looked al best-buddies style in the opening, the two went to work. Durant finished with 30 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. He hasn’t scored less than 30 points in the Thunder’s four wins. Westbrook bounced back from his 0-13 night with an improved 6-15 and 16 points. He’s still forcing it too much in my opinion, but as the wins come, criticism means less and less.
For the Mavs, it was another frustrating night, although the frustration only came in the final second. Vince Carter had another rough outing, scoring only 5 points until his apparently winning three pointer with 1.4 seconds to go. Dirk Nowitzki scored 29 points, with Delonte West and Jason Terry also helping with double figures. Three of the Mavs’ starters – Nowitzki, West and Haywood finished with at least a +16 for their court efforts. The bench kept Oklahoma in this game.
Again James Harden with 15 points and Nick Collison who added 8. Oklahoma struggled with an aggressive Mavs team last spring, but without Tyson Chandler, the Mavs’ defense is much softer, unable to push around Durant without leaving big holes. The Thunder shot 58.7% from the field, while the Mavs continued to struggle offensively (Jason Kidd is looking every bit of his 38 years), shooting just over 42%.
Russell Westbrook didn’t hit the winning shot, but he probably gained the most from this win. The Fans’ love, and at least temporarily, an end to the Westbrook-Durant questions.
I’ve never seen in my 20 years with the NBA what the crowd did tonight. They knew he was struggling. They watched our game Wednesday night and he struggled. When he made the layup and the free throw and the crowd started chanting his name out, that was special. This is a special place to play. I’ve never seen it before. (Scott Brooks, Thunder Coach)
The crowd was unbelievable tonight encouraging him, and I think that gave him some extra push. For them to encourage him like that was beautiful to see. I’m glad he was able to carry us in the last few minutes of the fourth and lead us to a good win. (Kevin Durant)
The Thunder, pre-season favorites to win the West, have everything working for them, and that’s with Russell Westbrook struggling. If he gets his game right? Well, they’ve been 4-0 so far with Kevin Durant playing like an MVP and James Harden absolutely huge off the bench.
The Mavericks? This whole defending champions thing doesn’t seem to fit them yet. Lamar Odom had another stinker with 4 points, shooting 2-11 from the field. Rick Carlisle said the basketball gods aren’t with them at the moment. After watching all of their 3 losses this season so far, despite the obvious improvement shown in OKC, they need more than simple divine intervention.